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Red & Black's statement concerning resignation of student editors - The Red and Black : News

Red & Black's statement concerning resignation of student editors

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Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:53 pm | Updated: 9:14 pm, Mon Aug 20, 2012.

In response to the resignation of student editors at the Red & Black Wednesday evening, The Red & Black board of directors and publisher, Harry Montevideo issues the following statement.

August 16, 2012

For a communications company, we clearly have been at the center of a great deal of miscommunication during the past 24 hours. We regret this failure of clarity with our core constituency, the student journalists. We want to set the record straight on several matters.

The Red & Black is still and will remain an independent student media organization. It has been in the past and will continue to be supported by a dedicated group of professionals. 

In an effort to provide a better product for our readers of print and digital news and to provide better training for our student journalists, The Red & Black recently decided to add additional professionals to both the editorial and business staff, half of whom are part time.

The Red & Black does not plan to have these professionals assume the role of our student Editor in Chief. The editorial director is a counselor, teacher, mentor, coordinator and manager. The editorial director is charged with helping students make smart content decisions prior to publication, particularly on stories, which involve issues of libel or standards of quality and ethics. It is not, nor has it ever been the intention of the board to censor student content.

We expect our students to collaborate with our professional staff to establish and maintain standards for quality, develop plans for content and create quality journalism products, which engage our audience.  

The Red & Black champions the best interest of student journalists.  Core to our mission is providing the best possible training and experience, which mirrors the real world.  We are optimistic about our future and the board has made a significant investment in additional teachers for our student journalists, multimedia staff, and graphic design team.  We have also established a Marketing/PR group to expand the experience we offer students and have added to our advertising staff.

The changes reflect our board’s optimism and the recognition that we must maintain pace in a rapidly changing world of news delivery beyond our traditional print format. The board is a volunteer group comprised of former The Red & Black staff and other journalists and business leaders, who have a passion for its heritage and wish to see it remain strong and independent for decades to come.

We are open for business and want to encourage any UGA student interested in working at their student newspaper to come by our office at any time. And that includes any former, staff members. There will be an open house and discussion at 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17 in our office at 540 Baxter Street.

Contact: Melita Easters, 404-408-9863

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35 comments:

  • p810 posted at 12:40 pm on Wed, Aug 22, 2012.

    p810 Posts: 1

    This awesome decision is likely going to turn your paper into a 'LIABILITY...'

     
  • Mike posted at 12:09 am on Wed, Aug 22, 2012.

    Mike Posts: 1

    The response of the "new" staff is laughable. As someone who has experienced the "Professional" mentoring of paid leadership while I was in college, I took have the staff and created a viable alternative press that was not beholden to the university.

    We did a great job and did not require "professional" guidance outside of questions of libel. We retained counsel for that purpose, and we competed with and dominated the school sponsored paper because we were driven to success. You paper may be a money making enterprise, but it is an educational crucible for you staff and they are right to question the motives that effectively demote them and centralize power into the hands of "advisors."

    There is no way to call it anything other than censorship and no matter what you do or say, it will always be in the back of every consumer of your efforts. I would strongly encourage you to rethink this strategy to either break the current structure or force all university personnel off the board of directors to break the appearance of collusion and attempt to restore faith in the readership and the student population.

     
  • Bleed Red and Black posted at 12:38 pm on Sat, Aug 18, 2012.

    Bleed Red and Black Posts: 92

    Much ado about nothing....and students sounding like drama queens.

     
  • Bleed Red and Black posted at 12:34 pm on Sat, Aug 18, 2012.

    Bleed Red and Black Posts: 92

    Still haven't heard what the fuss was about. What exactly are they protesting by leaving?

     
  • livelovelearn posted at 8:32 pm on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    livelovelearn Posts: 1

    After reading both sides of the issue it seems to me the students recognized they were on a sinking ship and used this opportunity as an excuse to bail instead of working harder to create a better product.

    The paper was awful as it was, but this puts the final nail in the coffin. No one I know has read anything more than the headline of the paper for the last year. When I started as a freshman 4 years ago I read the paper every day until the quality degraded beyond a point of readability. Red and Dead indeed.

     
  • realinfo posted at 3:48 pm on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    realinfo Posts: 8

    How can you blame the board? These students run a god awful newspaper and website that obviously need change. When the board seeks to make change, everyone cries and runs away claiming their freedoms are being impaired. In an ideal world these students could write whatever they please and continue to work in a great building and environment with new technology. In the real world, nobody reads the Red and Black, therefore there is no money to fund the continual operation of the company. Readership has go down more than significantly in the past few years, so obviously the blame should lie on the students running the daily operations of the paper rather than on the board members who have realized the paper blows and changes need to be made.

     
  • jdoolan posted at 1:04 pm on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    jdoolan Posts: 1

    I feel like this statement from Dr. Hollander's blog does an awesome job summing up what needs to happen:
    "This story has been picked up by everyone, from Athens Patch to the New York Times to a host of journalism sources. Today, the SPJ is sending someone down to monitor the meeting and do interviews for a story. It's that serious, folks. If you're on the board, take notice that nearly the entire planet knows you're wrong. Knows it.

    Bend, board members, before you break The Red & Black."

     
  • Athensugaalum posted at 12:41 pm on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    Athensugaalum Posts: 2

    Clearly this is no longer "by students for students". It will be by adults, with student interns. The Board of the Red and Black must think these young people are stupid. They are not. They are young adults who have not been treated as such. This Board has behaved in incredibly bad form, and reminds me of the corporate boards which have been rightfully vilified in the U.S. in recent years. There is no excuse for this, and I would not want my current UGA attending student to be a part of this publication under the circumstances. I will not support businesses which advertise in the Red and Black either, and encourage others to do likewise.

     
  • Jeff Mitchell posted at 11:36 am on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    Jeff Mitchell Posts: 1

    Mytake,

    1. Management ends the 119 year run of a student-led newspaper and you are blaming the kids for not coming to grips with it? Hello...

    2. Amber Estes probably learned more from publishing that article than most kids will learn in all four years of college combined. Though perhaps not her intent, it provoked discussion on campus for a topic that obviously struck a nerve with many people. Isn't provoking discussion what many professors strive to do?

    3. We have Freedom of the Press for a reason. Get used to it.

    4. It's pretty simple: revert the paper back to being student-led. Nobody is saying the "professionals" can't hover over the kids every second of the day if they so desire, and that the kids should not seriously listen to them, only that the kids should have the last word.

    5. The kids were given no choice but to quit. The "professionals" should have considered that possibility before taking unilateral action.

    6. Montevideo threw the baby out with the bathwater as the expression goes. If he truly thought the paper was lousy, he can hire a new staff with the promise the paper will be student-led again, then entice back who he wants.

    7. The ends don't always justify the means. This is a prime case in point.

     
  • IReadWords posted at 11:34 am on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    IReadWords Posts: 1

    What we need is some transparency by the board here. The writing is on the wall, and the more you sugar coat what really happened, the less and less respect you have, until it dwindles to zero. Yes, the paper needs help, but this decision by the board is just awful. Perhaps walk down the hall to the ADPR department and get some advice from professionals and academics who know how to handle a crisis?

     
  • jskey1080 posted at 10:58 am on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    jskey1080 Posts: 1

    How's that new PR/Marketing team working out for you?

     
  • Outsider posted at 2:07 am on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    Outsider Posts: 1


    1) Never seen a more open invitation to scabs than the last paragraph of this piece.
    2) For a student newspaper, why is there a 60 year old (professor? editor?) defending the de facto shutdown of a student newspaper?
    3) Smoke=fire. The entire staff quits? Is every one of those people counting on the good will of employers to trust that they quit for the right reasons?

     
  • mytake posted at 1:41 am on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    mytake Posts: 1

    Red & Dead,

    Please read this in it's entirety and fill me in on your viewpoints and if I am in anyway completely missing the boat on this.

    I respect the right for these students to walk and they absolutely have every right to do so. Also, I would like to add that the memo was poorly written. With that said, I disagree with there decision for several reasons.

    1) It was an emotional response to an issue that -- had they spent more time discussing -- could have and would have been solved.

    2) Why be held to a higher standard? Because that is what creates your best work. Once you post an article online, especially a large publication, it has your name on it forever. Do you want to be associated with an article that wasn't your best work? (i.e. Amber Estes, How to find a husband).

    3) Should they be able to say bad stuff about whoever and whatever they want? Of course. The problem with this though, and what I believe the memo was trying to say, (not in the best way though) is that the majority of articles published by the people at the Red & Dead -- prior to leaving -- were cynical and negative to an extreme. I don't even have to read the name at the top of the article or see the picture of the author, I already know what I am going to get. How about writing stories from both sides of the issue?

    4) Yes this has gotten a ton of press, the majority of journalist back the Red & Dead, But what happens when you walk out at a major publication. Nothing. You walk out and that's it. The majority of the Red & Black Staff that resigned have been back at school for a whopping 3 days. How about sitting down and having a conversation and expressing your concerns?

    5) Why throw people under the bus. Not only that, but back up and run over them again. You aren't kids anymore and this truly affects peoples lives. Do you have a wife and kids? A family to support? No.

    6) Harry Montevideo has been with the publication for around thirty years (I think). The man loves the paper and I am sure he loves the students that walked. The Red & Black has created tremendous writers and great papers in the past. With that said, the quality of work was declining. Just because someone tells you something you don't want to hear means you walk out?

    7) Had they fired someone for not agreeing with the new terms? Did they sit there and point a finger at the staff and say, "this is how its going to be done and if you don't like it then you can quit". No. They simply wanted to raise the quality of work.

    I truly hope this can be settled diplomatically and swiftly.

    You stood up for what you believed in and I respect that. You walked out, but I believe you walked out the wrong way.

     
  • CommonCents posted at 10:38 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    CommonCents Posts: 1

    Well, I think its time for Red and Black to begin a new. Let those students rise up and start another newspaper/internet site. It could start off as a student club and use UGA funding to get it going and then spread from there and become independent again. It would be hard work... but it would be a newspaper made by students and run completely by students.

     
  • DeuS_eX_DaRe posted at 9:32 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    DeuS_eX_DaRe Posts: 1

    It comes down to Prior Review, where a non-student professional would have final veto over all editorial content before publication. I agree with Red & Dead, this just ain't an option.

    And that memo was ironic for its mistakes, and disgusting for its tone. It's exactly what I think of when I think of a corrupt newsroom concerned with "striking the right tone shifting focus away from certain issues and onto others" and avoiding "embarrassing the wrong people".

     
  • AB '85 posted at 9:16 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    AB '85 Posts: 1

    Either it is a student paper, or it is not. Sadly it no longer is.

     
  • l0bl0 posted at 8:48 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    l0bl0 Posts: 23

    If the students who resigned plan to walk out whenever a manager tells them to do something they don't like, then that's their prerogative, but they better get ready to do a lot of walking.

     
  • CJFD posted at 8:21 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    CJFD Posts: 1

    I'd love to see a direct statement from Ed Stamper about the memo.

     
  • Uscjourno posted at 8:08 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Uscjourno Posts: 1

    I urge you to immediately reinstate student control of the Red and Black newspaper.

    I could not be where I am nor who I am without my experiences at my college newspaper, your neighbor to the North. In four years at USC, no experience shaped me as much as my time working for The Gamecock. And a great deal of the value of that experience stemmed from the freedom I and other student editors enjoyed and the accompanying deep responsibility that freedom required. 

    It may seem frightening to give teenagers editorial control. It shouldn't. What should be frightening is the prospect of robbing students of the training, development and education working for their own newspaper provides. It should cause deep unease that the University of Georgia would produce journalists who've never faced tough decisions about how to inform their peers, or shed light on injustice or even just decide what's an appropriate level of snark.

    A collegiate education should shape adults, not relegate them to being parented. By imposing strict editorial control over a student newspaper, you tell students they're not good enough or smart enough or responsible enough. They shouldn't have to wait until they've hung a framed diploma on the wall to finally grow up. 

    I made many mistakes in my time at The Gamecock. So did every one of my peers, so did my predecessors, so did my successors and so will future generations. You've made mistakes too, and this decision is one of them. I'm grateful for every mistake I made in that stuffy newsroom because I learned how not to make it again. Student newspapers are a unique and fertile ground for talented reporters, editors, designers, photographers, editorialists, cartoonists to grow and to prosper. They are incomparable educational tools that shouldn't be subject to rigid outside control. 

    Adding insult to injury, the draft memo for oversight of the paper implies a desire to turn a robust, successful, award-winning newspaper into a glossy advertisement. If the author of that memo is passionate about providing such a product, he should launch his own instead of attempting to ruin an institution as important and valuable as the Red and Black.

     
  • mswhite posted at 5:48 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    mswhite Posts: 1

    As a former Red and Black reporter who remembers fondly her days as a novice writer, I'm perplexed and saddend by these events. One of the main rules I learned in college, and not from any class but from my extracurriculars, was: People support what they create. Why weren't those students most closely impacted involved in decining what to changes? I'm not familiar with the current Red and Black, but in the early 80s, when I was at UGA, it was daily required reading. Not just "required" for journalism majors, but for everyone! I had several journalism professors pooh-pah it, but when I went for job interviews, you better bet I had my clips and was ready to talk about writing for the Red and Black and what I learned. In the good ole day, the Red and Black had the scoop; no it wasn't always positive and filled with good news. Yes it made UGA officials mad... often.. But it shared the news, and gave aspiring journalists, editors, ad sales reps, etc. a learning lab to try their wing.. Sad to see that the well regarded Red & Black has strayed from what I remember.

     
  • letsbereal posted at 5:40 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    letsbereal Posts: 1

    Instead of handling the situation like adults, these students chose to be dramatic and make a scene. I'm a senior at UGA and worked for a newspaper for one year.....the Red and Black is one of the worst newspapers I have ever read. Many of the articles are full of grammatical errors and incorrect spelling. Even worse, some of the content is not quality or substantive material . I agree 100 percent that someone needs to be looking over the content. Looking over is quite different from censoring, and I feel that these students just want to make this a censoring issue so that they can draw attention from bigger media outlets and be recognized.

    Judging from many of the articles written, these students do need guidance in discovering the true story behind an event or a person, guidance in what counts as a story and what does not, and guidance in interviewing (and getting direct quotes rather than paraphrasing and then claiming them to be direct quotes). The guidance of "standards of quality and ethics" is a legitimate necessity that this newspaper, the student editors, and the staff writers must accept.

    Yes, it is a student-run newspaper and should be, but isn't the whole point of being a student to learn as much as possible? If there is no superior guidance, you're not learning because learning involves a teacher and a student. Get off your high-horses, students. Maybe you can learn a thing or two about journalism if you do.

     
  • UGAGrad83 posted at 5:00 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    UGAGrad83 Posts: 3

    What's wrong with this picture? A decidely non-student making a statement for an "independent student newspaper." The Red and Black is no longer a student newspaper; rather it is just another Athens newspaper, which happens to use students for cheap labor. Many, many universities around the country have active, excellent student newspapers which really are that, and there is no reason why UGA should not be among them. If the Red and Black Board wants to oversee a student newspaper, they should publicly repudiate the memorandum which was published yesterday, and clarify that students will have day-to-day oversight and control of all editorial and news content. If the Board is concerned about libel (or "liable", as it was spelled in the memo), put a lawyer on retainer with whom the students can consult. Otherwise, act like a Board: advise and guide, but don't decide.

     
  • JennJournalist posted at 3:37 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    JennJournalist Posts: 1

    This is no miscommunication about what is happening, from what you said at the beginning of your statement. As journalists, the former editors of the Red and Black made decisions as young people to uphold the integrity of journalism that professional adults threatened. Just as sources are not given prior review of a story to preserve the integrity of the decisions these students make, no director should have prior review. This is a learning environment for students and that environment has now become controlled.

     
  • dougmo2 posted at 3:14 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    dougmo2 Posts: 1

    We 'managers" here at the Red and Black will tell the students what to write and when to write it. There will be no changes in this policy.

    Sincerely,
    J. Gobbels
    Senior Manager

     
  • Disgraceful posted at 2:44 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Disgraceful Posts: 1

    Having a non-student "review and approve" a student-run newspaper no longer makes it a student newspaper. It makes it, at best, a classroom, with a safety barrier that blunts the raw experience, the "real world" that you champion in your statement.

    This isn't a high school - this is a college. You've done a great disservice to these students, to the University of Georgia and to the art of education itself. This board ought to be ashamed.

     
  • John Knox posted at 2:35 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    John Knox Posts: 2

    So many things to contest here, but I'll stick to just one: the frantic lemming-like drive to "maintain pace" and more or less abandon print for online. Mistake. Who says? The Poynter Institute, which I hope at least a few of the R&B Board of Directors are familiar with. http://www.poynter.org/latest-news/making-sense-of-news/105600/students-prefer-printed-college-newspapers-over-online/ I strongly suspect that the move to a once-a-week print edition has precipitated the financial problems that led to the board's actions that triggered the walkout... by drastically reducing circulation (nobody in my big classes was reading the R&B last fall after the change to a print-weekly, a huge change from previous years) and disrupting ad revenue, which comes mostly from print. It's a failed financial model that may have led to panic and a failed editorial model, as the 'adults' wrenched the steering wheel away from the students.

     
  • Kevin Blanchard posted at 2:23 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Kevin Blanchard Posts: 1

    The student editors who walked have already demonstrated better journalistic judgment and integrity than this publication's board of directors. A decision like this is a direct affront to the principles and purpose of student journalism.

     
  • akerr posted at 2:22 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    akerr Posts: 1

    As a UGA/Red & Black Alum I am sorry to see the discontent going on between the students and board of directors. As a current newspaper reporter, I see these discussions about content always going on. You want to provide a balance of hard news with community centered features. There will always be disagreements between the higher ups and reporters about content, I'm not sure this particular issue at the Red & Black was worth walking out over. Nothing in that memo isn't anything that my bosses wouldn't ask of me.

     
  • nocensorship posted at 1:51 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    nocensorship Posts: 39

    "The Red & Black is still and will remain an independent student media organization."

    Stand with the students, don't buy the lies.

     
  • ugatiger26 posted at 1:50 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    ugatiger26 Posts: 96

    Funny that the way the student journalists are reacting to this is an embodiment of how they have reacted to a multitude on UGA-related incidents in the past. Blowing things completely out of proportion.

     
  • Raul posted at 1:48 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Raul Posts: 1

    Dear Mr. Montevideo,

    What exactly was the miscommunication? The memo received by the editor-in-chief is a list of instructions. Is the memo a reflection of policy, and if so, how do you reconcile it with your claim of R&B's independence? If it is not a reflection of policy, who wrote it, and why?

    Furthermore, the instructions were about ensuring a non-controversial product, not about producing fine journalism. For instance, listed under "BAD" on the memo is "Content that catches people or organizations doing bad things." This suggests you are more interested in advertising revenue than journalism. Will you please explain further?

     
  • Independent posted at 1:41 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Independent Posts: 1

    "The Red & Black is still and will remain an independent student media organization."

    If the students are walking out then there is a crystal clear sign that something is amiss. It may be time to reevaluate if this is a STUDENT media organization or just an organization.

    Listen to the STUDENTS if the Red and Black is as stated "an independent student media organization"

     
  • Geoff Lister posted at 1:38 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    Geoff Lister Posts: 2

    Student newspapers train some of the best journalists in North America. They do so by putting the students in charge. Advisers are an excellent way to encourage that.

    Unfortunately, you've taken your directors beyond an advisory role. You have instituted a structure that will stifle the ability of young editors, removed the student from the student publication.

    In Canada, we don't even have advisers and we manage to produce publications that rival our counterparts in the States, usually on half the budget. Institutional knowledge has power, The Red and Black seems to have plenty of it. Let that be the guiding light, perhaps it will result in fewer copy mistakes than your press releases.

     
  • MaxM posted at 1:28 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    MaxM Posts: 1

    "And that includes any former, staff members."

    I guess you still haven't managed to sucker anyone into replacing your copy editor.
    Also:
    http://www.reactiongifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/AQV9L.gif

     
  • comment posted at 1:20 pm on Thu, Aug 16, 2012.

    comment Posts: 1

    BOOOOOOOO